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Fitness Facts: Is it possible to exercise too much?

Have you ever wondered if it’s possible to exercise too much? If you exercise regularly, is there a way to tell if you’re overdoing it? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, the next question you should ask yourself is why am I exercising?

If you’re exercising to improve your health and reduce risk for disease, 2.5–3 hours per week of moderate to vigorous activity will give you substantial health benefits. Once you surpass 5 hours per week of activity, you are now more so training for performance.

Overtraining occurs when you have surpassed your body’s ability to recover after exercise — the amount of training has exceeded your body’s capacity to go through its regular repair processes.

Common signs of overtraining are:

  • trouble sleeping
  • abnormal/excessive fatigue
  • feeling run down
  • not being able to fight off normal colds or other respiratory infections

You may also notice that workouts that used to feel easy, now feel challenging or you feel like you have to force yourself to do workouts that you used to enjoy.

A study of 101 division 1 college football players found that their risk of injury almost doubled during times of high academic stress (during midterms and finals weeks). “Spending long hours at work or traveling, or dealing with stressful situations at home, can gobble up some of your energetic budget and diminish your capacity for recovering from exercise”. Managing the stressors in your life while prioritizing sleep, nutrition and recovery are all extremely important in the prevention of injury.

As we age, our bodies require a longer recovery period. So be sure to listen to your body and take those rest days!

Source:

Mann JB, Bryant KR, Johnstone B, Ivey PA, Sayers SP. Effect of Physical and Academic Stress on Illness and Injury in Division 1 College Football Players. J Strength Cond Res. 2016;30(1):20–25. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001055

Aschwanden C. Ask Well: Is It Possible to Exercise Too Much? And if so, how can I tell if I’m overdoing it? The New York Times. 2022 Jan 4. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/04/well/move/too-much-exercise.html

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